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Alh. Mohammadu Umar, Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday on the sidelines of a workshop on Regional Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and associated legislation in West Africa.
He said that the farm settlements when fully established would address the incessant clashes between Fulani cattle rearers and farmers.
Umar explained that the pilot programme had already commenced on a 31,000-hectare in Kotongora, Niger State.
According to him, the required facilities for a basic life and treatment of cattle are being provided to enhance productivity.
He said that the government would replicate the programme in selected states as work “is ongoing in the 12 pilot states”.
According to him, six settlements will be established in each of the pilot states.
Umar, who added that the centres would be expanded and adequately equipped, assured the beneficiaries that government would do all that was necessary to enlighten the herdsmen on how the use of ranches could make cattle rearing more profitable.
He said that the government would sensitise the herdsmen to the social and political benefits derivable from such settlements.
The permanent secretary explained that various spots would be established for the pastoralists to be able to milk their cows.
He also said that dispensaries would be established to prevent the misuse of antibiotics.
The ‘Ruga Settlement’ idea was an initiative of the National Economic Council (NEC) presented under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (2018-2027).
It was an initiative to stop the age-long herders-farmers crisis and to massively develop the livestock industry.
The initiative seeks to promote ranching as the way forward for cattle rearing in the country.
According to the permanent secretary, nomadic livestock production in Nigeria is facing major challenges and is at crossroads due to declining availability of pasture, overgrazing, and expanding fatal conflicts between pastoralists and crop farmers.
He said that the impact on food and nutrition security as well as “public safety and national security are huge and far-reaching, therefore government is bent on making the plan to work as it has commenced.
“Under the new plan, cattle herders are expected to be registered and recognised with cooperatives for the purpose of the ranching scheme.
“These cooperatives will then be able to get rental agreements for land from state governments and also benefit from ranch resources on several terms including loans, grants, and subsidies,’’ he said.
Government Rejects Fulani Settlements In Benue
Meanwhile, the Benue State government has said that it was against plans by the Federal Government to establish Ruga Settlements (Fulani settlements) in the state.
The government also noted that the establishment of the settlements is contrary to the Benue Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 as well as the Land Use Act which confers on the governor the powers to administer lands in all parts of the state.
Governor Samuel Ortom, in a statement in Makurdi on Tuesday by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Terver Akase, observed that the establishment of the settlements was an attack on the constitution, which gave states the powers to make laws for the governance of its people.
The Federal Government had selected Otukpo, Tarka, and Ukum Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state for the establishment of Ruga Settlements.
Akase said: “It has become necessary to make the position of the government and people of Benue State abundantly clear on the Ruga Settlements for herdsmen being implemented by the Federal Government across the states (of the Federation), including Benue.
“We wish to remind those pushing for Ruga Settlements that the constitution of the country gives states the right to make laws for the governance of their people.
“Any attempt to subvert such right is a direct attack on the constitution. Those behind such a move are enemies of peace and progress.”
The CPS, however, said that “the government of Benue State is willing to support cattle owners to establish ranches as stipulated by the law prohibiting open grazing”.
He adds: “We, however, wish to reiterate that Benue State has no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies, or Ruga Settlements. The state only has land for the establishment of ranches.”
Akase also pointed out that despite the state government’s opposition to the plans, the director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, who had commenced work on the project, said he received directives from the parent ministry to go ahead with the work.
He further explained that the approach of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture was not only “a gross violation of the ranching law but also an insult to the sensibilities of the entire people of Benue State”.
Akase observed that Governor Samuel Ortom had made the stand of Benue on the issue known at various fora, adding that the state would only embrace the policy if the Federal Government supported the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.
I’m Still Committed To Ending Herders, Farmers’ Clashes – Buhari
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has said his commitment towards ending the recurring conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in parts of the country had not waned.
He said he expected states to key into investments in education, primary health care, agriculture, and security as a means of bringing the security situation in the country under control.
The president said this on Tuesday when he played host to a delegation from Nasarawa State at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
At the reception, Buhari went down memory lane, recalling how dear Nasarawa State was to him, noting that the state produced the only governor under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011.
“The incessant conflict between herders and farmers is an age-long problem, but this administration is determined to find lasting solutions to it. I employ all leaders of opinion to help maintain peace while we are putting in place policies and permanent solutions.
“Just last week, I inaugurated the National Economic Council. During that meeting, I emphasised the need to invest in education, primary health care, agriculture, and security as foundations for sustainable progress.
“I want to use this forum to again solicit the support of all states to align with those four pillars. We must all have a collective vision for sustainable development,” the president stated.
The meeting had in attendance, former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-makura, the current governor, Abdullahi Sule, among others.


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